We're always in the market for a new snack to keep life (read: the workdays) interesting, but aside from the occasional Trader Joe's product drop, there's not usually much at the local grocery store that deviates from the standard barbecue chips and mustard pretzels. Luckily, our staff tends to look farther, perusing specialty stores and websites offering a wider array of foods to keep our emotional eating interesting. And sometimes, less ambitiously, we raid a Whole Foods in desperation. For every find that becomes a favorite, there are others that miss the mark. Below are some of the snacks that won us over in our never-ending quest to keep our roving mouths satisfied.
Instant Noodle Snail Soup
I first heard of the luosifen (snail noodle soup) craze sweeping China from Jenny Dorsey, who has been working on her own recipe for it. That led me to the e-commerce site Weee!, where I proceeded to purchase an inexplicable number of packets of the instant-noodle version from just about every brand available. I'm talking more than $50 worth—judge me as you see fit. I'm torn on whether to declare these a win or a dud. I've enjoyed them. They're spicy, earthy, very subtly snail-y, and very preserved bamboo-shoot-y. Jenny has told me she's less enthusiastic about them due to that pronounced bamboo shoot flavor, which is a feeling, I guess because I'm extremely impressionable, that has now rubbed off on me. —Daniel Gritzer, senior culinary director
Lay's Hot Pot Flavored Chips
In my experience, Lay’s doesn’t consistently deliver on the promise of a lot of their envelope-pushing chip flavors, so I did my best to temper expectations when I picked up a bag of these hot pot-flavored ones at my local H Mart. But they’re actually…pretty good? They don’t pack a ton of málà zip, but there’s enough, along with some background chile heat that’s balanced by a touch of sweetness, umami from MSG and soy sauce, and some allium notes with garlic and onion powder. Do they actually taste like hot pot broth? Of course not. But like barbecue chips, that’s not really the point, right? I can tell you that the chips were gone in under five minutes once I opened the bag. —Sasha Marx, senior culinary editor
Jeni's Skillet Cinnamon Roll Ice Cream
When a publicist for Jeni's Ice Cream invited me to an online tasting to celebrate "Ice Cream for Breakfast Day," I said sure, why not: I like ice cream, I love breakfast, so this would be the perfect opportunity to blame eating ice cream before noon on my job.
What I didn't expect was that Jeni's Skillet Cinnamon Roll Ice Cream would be so good that I would, quite rudely, bust into my wife's home office, almost interrupting a meeting she was finishing, and insist that she stop everything to come try some. Thankfully she forgave me, agreed it was amazing, and then left me to single-handedly polish off the carton. The textures and flavors of the cream-cheese ice cream and cinnamon-roll pastry studded throughout are wonderful. It might be one of the best ice creams I've ever tried. —Jacob Dean, updates editor
Calbee Grill A Corn, Garlic Toast Flavor
I will admit that I initially bought these for the packaging—I don’t feel the need to expound upon that. But these little crisps are delightful! They’re corn-based, so they have that same flavor you might associate with Cheetos, but they have a lighter, puffier texture. As you may have guessed from the intensity of the packaging, the flavor is robust. They’re deeply savory, full of toasted garlic flavor, but none too salty. —Jina Stanfill, social media editor
Whole Foods Guacamole
After a day of running errands, I had to head straight to my parents' house for dinner, which meant I didn't have time to make anything...and I had to bring something. I was near a Whole Foods, so I ran in, grabbed a container of guacamole (it was in the produce section, right by the entrance of my store) and a bag of tortilla chips. And while I'm generally not a fan of pre-packaged dips, the guacamole was a hit. According to the online product listing, it just contains avocado, lime juice, cilantro, jalapeños, and salt. My parents and I polished off a large container of it easily. —Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm, commerce editor
Cracker Barrel Cheese Sticks
I never noticed the blocks of Cracker Barrel cheese in the grocery store until I met my husband. After we started dating, I remember asking him what his favorite brand of cheddar cheese was, to which he replied, "Cracker Barrel." I proceeded to inform him that he was mistaken and that it was, in fact, a restaurant chain. Shortly after, he bought me a block of his favorite type and we've almost always had one of their cheddars kicking around our fridge our ever since. These days, I'm always on the hunt for easy snacks for our toddler, so when I saw their prepackaged sticks, I grabbed them. Turns out, they're perfect as an afternoon snack, when you're running out the door, and when your kid is expecting dinner but it's late (again). —Kristina Razon, associate editor